Yes, Israel does interfere in the affairs of foreign states

Gilad Erdan. Photo: Times of israel

JVL Introduction

Israel’s premier liberal paper, Haaretz, inveighs against the activities of its Ministry of Strategic Affairs which it accuses of waging all-out war against the BDS movement and its activists abroad, exerting diplomatic, legal and even economic pressure.

It has done so “using front organizations operating abroad, some of them Jewish” and it “demands that the world consider the political boycott of Israel in the wake of the occupation to be an expression of anti-Semitism.”

Haaretz is clear that this is a battle against the freedom of political expression of the Palestinians and their supporters throughout the world.


Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Harm

In recent years Israel has waged all-out war against the movement, exerting diplomatic, legal and even economic pressure

Haaretz editorial, 13 June 2019

The disclosure, in response to a freedom of information request by the Hatzlacha organization, of the datebook of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, showed that the ministry had cooperated with the Mossad in its wide-ranging campaign against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (“Mossad involved in fight against BDS movement,” Noa Landau, June 12).

Contrary to Erdan’s claim that his meeting with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen on the fight against BDS was merely a review, sources familiar with the ministry’s work said cooperation with the Mossad went far beyond mere reviews.

BDS is a nonviolent political civil movement that uses consumer sanctions to protest the Israeli occupation. In recent years Israel, in an effort led by Erdan, has waged all-out war against the movement and its activists, exerting diplomatic, legal and even economic pressure. The Strategic Affairs Ministry has conducted this struggle in part using front organizations operating abroad, some of them Jewish. The ministry deliberately does not differentiate between boycotts against sovereign Israel and boycotts against the settlement enterprise, considering them to be one and the same. Not only that, the Israeli campaign demands that the world consider the political boycott of Israel in the wake of the occupation to be an expression of anti-Semitism.

Now it emerges that in this battle Israel has been using its premier espionage agency, the Mossad, against foreign citizens all over the world who support BDS. All this was done under a cloak of secrecy that a government ministry in a democratic country is not meant to use.

The government treats BDS movement as a danger to security, or a terrorism threat, and uses the resources of its security agencies and other means to monitor citizens who express opinions it doesn’t like; even worse, it does so beyond the borders of the state. This is a battle against the freedom of political expression of the Palestinians and their supporters throughout the world. The means Israel employs in this battle are antidemocratic and draconian, and they often achieve the opposite of the desired effect, distancing liberal Diaspora Jews from Israel.

The next election offers an opportunity to close this superfluous ministry, which does Israel more harm than good. Instead of conducting pursuits that undermine the freedom of expression of foreign citizens, the government would do well to change the circumstances behind the BDS movement — the occupation — and let the Mossad focus on activities that are truly important to national security.

Mossad Involved in Anti-boycott Activity, Israeli Minister’s Datebooks Reveal

Strategic affairs minister’s schedules show he met with spy agency’s chief ■ Datebooks also include several meetings devoted to creation of firm to advance ‘mass awareness activities’

Noa Landau, Haaretz
12 June 2019

The datebooks of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan for 2018 reveal that he cooperated with the Mossad in the fight against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The diaries, which were released in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that Erdan met with Mossad head Yossi Cohen about “the struggle against the boycott.” The request was made by the Hatzlaha movement, an organization promoting a fair society and economy, to all ministers, deputy ministers and ministry directors-general.

Officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry are proud of their work with the state’s security agencies, but hide the content and full scope of these activities on grounds that if these would be revealed, it would undermine the covert efforts being made against BDS and its leaders. Officials in Erdan’s office said that the meeting with Cohen was merely a “review,” but sources familiar with the ministry’s activities told Haaretz that the ministry indeed cooperates with the Mossad.

Erdan’s datebooks also show meetings with the head of the National Security Council and the head of the NSC’s intelligence branch, as well as meetings with representatives of numerous Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, the American Jewish Congress, the umbrella organization of French Jewry, the U.S. Reform Movement and others. There are also logs of various meetings and phone calls that Erdan’s chief of staff held with foreign leaders and diplomats, as well as meetings with settler leaders, including the heads of the Samaria Regional Council and the Hebron Hills Regional Council.

Many of Erdan’s meetings in 2018 were devoted to establishing a public benefit corporation which at first was called Kella Shlomo but whose name was later changed to Concert. Its aim was to covertly advance “mass awareness activities” as part of “the struggle against the campaign to delegitimize” Israel globally. This corporation, which received 128 million shekels (about $36 million) in government funding and was to also collect 128 million shekels in private contributions, is not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.

In early 2018 Haaretz published the list of shareholders and directors in the company, which include former Strategic Affairs Ministry director general Yossi Kuperwasser; former UN ambassador Dore Gold, a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; former UN ambassador Ron Prosor; businessman Micah Avni, whose father, Richard Lakin, was killed in a 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem; Amos Yadlin, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies; Miri Eisin, who served as the prime minister’s adviser on the foreign press during the Second Lebanon War; former National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror; and Sagi Balasha, a former CEO of the Israeli-American Council.

According to a government resolution, the funding was granted to implement part of the ministry’s activities related to the fights against delegitimization and boycotts against the State of Israel. It says the company would raise the private portion of its financing for the initiative from philanthropic sources or pro-Israel organizations. A steering committee was to be appointed for the initiative to comprise representatives of the government and the other funding partners.

Elad Mann, Hatzlacha’s legal adviser, said, “Revealing the date books of senior and elected officials is crucial to understanding how the government system works and it has great value taken together with other details of information. This is how to monitor the government and its priorities or the actions it takes with more efficiency and transparency.”

Erdan’s office said that he “met during this past term with heads of the security echelons to give them a survey of the ministry’s activities in the struggle against the delegitimization and boycott of Israel.”

Josh Breiner contributed to this report.